Piezo-electric shockwave therapy (Also known as Radial Pulse Wave Therapy) is an extremely effective and non-invasive solution to pain associated with musculoskeletal system. It delivers a series of high-energy percussions to the area being treated. These are NOT electric shocks, but physical/mechanical pulses that will travel through the tissue being treated.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
This form of treatment, being relatively new, is still being researched. It has been in use in Europe for many years with very successful clinical results in treating various forms of musculoskeletal conditions. Although various theories exist, the following seems most probable:
Shockwave delivers thousands of high energy percussions to the affected tissue in the region of treatment, typically “the painful area”. These impulses are thought to cause scar tissue and calcific fibroblasts to break down and this in turn provokes metabolic activity and an inflammatory response which promotes and stimulates healing.
WHAT ARE THE PHYSIOLOGICAL EFFECTS?
Piezo-electric shockwave is believed, and has clinically shown, to have the following effects:
1. Eliminate pain
2. Facilitate healing
3. Improve local microcirculation leading to improved tissue metabolism
4. Increase production of collagen
5. Reduce local muscle tension
6. Help dissolve calcific fibroblasts
7. Stimulate the “washing away” of Substance-P (a pain producing chemical)
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BENEFITS?
This therapy can be used without the use of X-rays or drugs; although the diagnostic process and or previous treatments may have already included these. It is thought to stimulate the body’s own healing ability. In many instances there can be an immediate reduction of pain as well as improved mobility and improved function. It is non-invasive and there is no need for anesthesia. There are minor secondary effects following treatment, generally some soreness that will dissipate in a short amount of time.
HOW LONG DOES EACH TREATMENT TAKE TO ADMINISTER?
Each session of treatment will take approximately 5-10 minutes. During this time 2000 to 3000 pulse waves are delivered into the area being treated. Approximately 2000 shocks are delivered lasting around 5 minutes. 3-5 treatments are needed with 5-10 days between treatments.
WHAT IS THE SUCCESS RATE OF SHOCKWAVE TREATMENT?
The worldwide reported rate of clinical success with Shockwave therapy is between 77%-80%. Our patients have reported successful results in line with these same parameters. For those who do not respond favorably to the treatment, other modes of therapy and treatment should be considered and proper referrals will be made to the appropriate specialists.
DOES THE TREATMENT HURT?
Depending upon the level of pain the patient is already experiencing in the area, there may be some discomfort during each treatment. However, most patients are able to tolerate the treatments very well since it only lasts for about 5 minutes. Also, the intensity of the treatment can be adjusted to allow for some analgesic effect in the beginning of each session.
WILL THERE BE PAIN AFTER THE TREATMENT?
Most patients will experience immediate relief of pain following the treatment. However, within 2-4 hours they may experience soreness in the area. The soreness has been reported as being very tolerable and may last a few hours to several days. If you should experience this soreness, DO NOT use ice on the area. Since one of the desired effects of Shockwave treatments is an “inflammatory response”; use of anti-inflammatory medications (such as Ibuprophen, Motrin, Aleve, Advil, etc.) is not recommended. Most patients have reported very good results with Tylenol. You may choose to take medication as you see fit or based upon your Medical physicians recommendation and guidance. The soreness is typically gone within 4-24 hours without any form of intervention.
WHAT ABOUT “PHYSICAL ACTIVITY” vs. “REST” FOLLOWING THE TREATMENT?
It is recommended that you refrain from physical activity, especially the ones that would involve the treated region for 48 hours following each treatment.
ARE THERE ANY PRECAUTIONS OR CONTRAINDICATIONS TO SHOCKWAVE THERAPY?
YES. General contraindications and/or precautions include:
- Cortisone injections within one month prior to the start of Shockwave treatment
- Blood thinning medications such as Coumadin or Heparin
- Heart or circulatory problems
- Cancer in or around the treatment area
- Nerve or blood supply being too close to the site of treatment